Part of Business and Procurement Services, the Materials Support Warehouse on West Campus provides storage, freight and surplus management on campus. Providing for university and public departments, as well as holding multiple public sales each month, the NC State surplus group does a lot to help the community.
“Surplus is defined as an item that’s no longer needed by the university, but has a resale value,” Bill Carlson, the associate director and warehouse surplus manager, said. “Anything retired by the university comes through us and that includes things like mounted-police horses all the way up to laser equipment.”
The daily operations for Materials Support Warehouse consists of picking up items, distributing freight and pricing out items. Having increased their sales over time, the busiest season is from graduation until September when students and many other customers need furniture, office equipment or something else from the wide array of inventory.
“My goal is to have on-campus students come in and get whatever apartment stuff they need and I would love to help them be able to move,” said Lance Newsome, a warehouse lead.
Because of the amount of materials that come in to the warehouse, warehouse workers need to turnover their inventory regularly. This is done in public sales held on the second and fourth Friday of each month (excluding holidays) which draws a large, diverse crowd looking for deals. Since the sales can draw crowds of around 300 people, a lottery line is used to keep everyone ordered and safe.
“We wanted to put a practice in place to make it more safe and make sure everybody has the same advantage,” Carlson said. “Our customers love it. It’s a game, and whoever gets number one, two, or three will bid out their place to someone more interested in it.”
The Materials Support Warehouse has increased their sales over time, but during peak season over the summer it’s sometimes necessary to add an extra sale to the calendar. With crowds full of people looking for a bargain, Carlson provided some advice for eager customers to check their items prior to purchasing. To help with this, there is a computer testing area for electronics.
“There is no refund, no return, no exchange, so buyer beware,” Carlson said. “Test it, try it, know what you’re buying before you take it.”
One of the reasons inventory turnover for the Materials Support Warehouse is high is due to their pricing. With so many items coming in on a daily basis, much of their time is spent pricing items.
“We go out, and we look for fair market value,” Carlson said. “We look at sold listings on eBay, and from those sold listings we’ll take that array of items to come up with an aggregate price on that item. Generally, we’re a little below market value because we don’t want to be holding inventory.”
While the Materials Support Warehouse makes departmental sales regularly within the university, they also prioritize other state agencies within North Carolina, as well as 501(c) (3) nonprofit organizations. Some examples are K-12 schools, the state highway patrol and the Department of Health and Human Services. None of the items are donated, but they are sure to make surplus affordable for those who need it.
“For instance, a couple years ago when we had the hurricane, we helped Bertie County, one of the poorest counties in North Carolina, re-upfit their offices with furniture, filing cabinets and computers,” Carlson said. “We’re serving our university community, other counties and other state agencies.”
Another interesting activity held in the NC State Surplus warehouse was mentioned by Carlson as it turns out they allow the campus K9 units to use their facilities in scent-detection training. Hiding material in the storage racks, the dogs will seek out whatever substances are planted.
Interested in furnishing, replacing items or just want to browse? The NC State Surplus Store is open to authorized buyers of university departments who are strongly encouraged to browse the surplus inventory before buying new, expensive equipment. Just as student? Go to a public sale, the next one being Dec. 13. More information about the NC State Surplus Group can be found here.